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November 11, 2019

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On Juvenile Justice

In taking a critical look at the criminal justice system the topic of juvenile justice must be given the attention it deserves. Virginia's unfair, excessive, and disproportionate punishment of Black children throughout its educational institutions has contributed to Black youth being overrepresented in Virginia's Juvenile System. While Black youth represent about 20% of the youth population in Virginia, they comprise 52% of youth detained and 69.8% of youth committed to the Department of Juvenile Justice in Virginia. Once a youth is ensnared in the Virginia Juvenile Justice system, the risk of him being under state control throughout his adulthood increases. As a jailhouse lawyer I have witnessed many accounts of those who have been caught up in the system doing multiple stints in prison starting out as youths. I also personally bear witness to the statistics which show that over 75% of Virginia inmates have an education of High School or less. Today's society is plagued with many social ills and deficiencies that have produced a school to prison pipeline that is playing a major role in mass incarceration, and if we are to secure a healthy future for not just the most privileged but all Americans, then we must not ignore the youth who are our hope for tomorrow. Let us make true justice for juveniles a reality. - Hassan Shabazz

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